My dissertation explores the impact of body-worn cameras (BWCs) on police officer behavior over time. While the results of a few randomized controlled trials conducted in the U.S. and abroad have indicated sizeable reductions in both use of force incidents and citizen complaints associated with the use of BWCs, it remains unknown whether the reductions are sustained. It seems likely that, upon introduction of the devices, reactivity might lead to reductions in officer self-initiated activity and, in turn, to the noted reductions. It seems equally likely that such a reactivity phenomenon would decay over time. My dissertation explores these gaps in the extant research. Specifically, whether officer initiated activity (traffic stops and pedestrian checks/field interviews), use of force incidents, and citizen complaints have changed in volume, type, or outcome following the implementation of BWCs at a mid-Atlantic police department. This agency offers a unique opportunity to study the impact of BWCs on officer behavior because they began to deploy the devices in May 2013, which pre-dates the public pressure to do so, and they achieved full implementation in May 2016. The devices were implemented over the course of three years with approximately 50 BWCs issued at a time. This deployment schedule allows me to compare cohorts of officers from different waves of implementation to explore the possibility of a contamination effect.
Another of my research projects examines the relationship between police leadership and organizational practices in the form of organizational justice. Organizational justice is an emergent concept, which posits that people’s perceptions of fairness in their work environment, both in terms of definable decision outcomes (distributive) and through process-related (procedural) contexts, is related to larger organizational outcomes such as job satisfaction, organizational commitment, evaluation of authority, organizational citizenship behavior, and employee performance. However, the theoretical notion has received little attention in the policing context. Collaborating with fellow doctoral student, I have designed a survey instrument to examine the relationships between police officer perceptions of organizational justice and their attitudes regarding BWCs. We obtained access to officers at four different law enforcement agencies and two law enforcement continuing education venues, and subsequently published our findings in Journal of Crime & Justice. Our research found a positive relationship between officer perceptions of organizational justice and their attitudes regarding BWCs, which is not only important for successful implementation of these devices, but speaks to organizational change more generally. We are currently collaborating with Dr. Joseph Schafer to revise this survey instrument for administration to the participants of the FBI National Academy.